723 petition for SH8 underpass

A submission on the Central Otago District Council draft annual plan supporting a proposed underpass under State Highway 8 at Clyde has gathered 723 supporting signatures.

Janine Nevill, of Clyde, said her submission was circulated in the community for two weeks in places such as bike shops, Trail Journeys, Clyde Primary School, and a local garage, and could have received many more signatures if that period had been extended.

''I never had one person say that they would not sign it, or that they did not support it [construction of an underpass] happening before a fatality occurred. They want it to [be built] before that,'' Mrs Nevill said.

People in the Clyde community and those involved with the nearby Otago Central Rail Trail had previously called for an underpass to remove the risk of injury or fatality occurring at the crossing of SH8 at the bottom of Clyde hill, and to better connect the rail trail with Clyde.

The petition was signed by residents, as well as rail trail users.

The construction of an underpass was extremely important, and the sooner it was constructed the better, with winter and fog on the way, Mrs Nevill said.

She thought the community would band together to raise funds for an underpass if it was required to, but did not think it should have to.

''I think they probably would but in saying that, I don't believe we should have to. I believe that people's safety should come first. Council and Transit New Zealand [New Zealand Transport Agency] between them should make it a reality.''

Costs involved with constructing an underpass had been an issue in the past.

Mrs Nevill, who lived about 150m away from the crossing, said motivation for writing the submission came from having two sons who often used the crossing, and from community feedback.

''A lot of people have talked to me about near misses they have seen - vehicles, as well as people and cyclists using the crossing.''

Advice on the submission had been provided by Clyde School principal Doug White, and Otago Central Rail Trail Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson, who had both been active in pushing for the underpass.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) had last year changed its view on the underpass from high priority to low priority.

The council had said an underpass would be the responsibility of the NZTA, but had sought ways to provide funding for construction.

Mrs Nevill will speak to her submission during a council hearing early next month.

- leith.huffadine@odt.co.nz


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